By Charlotte A. Williams
Without dispute, all of us have been racially socialized in how to think about the African American. From slavery to present day, we either mind our racial social cues that comport with the social norms of the day or we resist them.
Some African Americans as well as some whites and other people of color have been resisting overt racism toward the African American for centuries, but not necessarily against white supremacy.
Although the struggle is far from over, it is interesting how some today mistakenly believe or pretend to believe that we are now living in a post-racial society.
This piece is on that forbidden grown-up talk – racism, and the ingrained culture of white supremacy, but this time from a communication’s viewpoint.
This is important because of the influence and psychological dynamics that might not be apparent to us when we form our views and opinions.
Many of us already know about slavery and its negative impacts from a historical perspective, but some of us do not understand how it ties in with media and our conscious or unconscious views of today. So, pull up your grown-up pants and take a seat at the table.
Our discussion will focus mainly on media’s racist history in America and of its mischaracterization of members of the African American community, chiefly, African American men.
For centuries media have been a dominant and continual force in the normalization of white supremacy. The perpetuation of racism and the intangible impacts of white supremacy down
through the generations could not have thrived without racist policies, racist laws and a racist media (newspapers, magazines, radio, television, music, and now social media), controlled by the elusive social elite, i.e., media owners and corporate bigwigs. Media gatekeepers, e.g., producers, directors, editors, etc. help to keep out
messages the social elite do not want to share for fear some may try and influence the masses into acting out against the establishment.
In a reference to white supremacy, communication researchers Russell Ferguson and Martha Gever wrote:
“The place from which power is exercised is often a hidden place.
When we try to pin it down, the center always seems to be somewhere
else. Yet, we know that this phantom center, elusive as it is, exerts a real, undeniable power over the entire framework of our culture, and over the ways we think about it.”
Ferguson and Gever are not the only ones who understand that “There is an undeniable power over the entire framework of our culture….”
Noted African American Psychiatrist Dr. Frances Cress Welsing is an authority on the subject of white supremacy. She has studied it from a clinical approach for many years and has written papers and books on the subject.
Without a doubt, “the undeniable power over the entire framework of our culture …” that Ferguson and Gever allude to is what Dr. Welsing defines as white supremacy.
To understand how mass media help to sustain racism and white supremacy without the masses being consciously aware, we must first go back and examine the colonial period when slaves were being kidnapped from Africa and shipped to America as if they were cattle.
White male domination was the rule of the day, which made it easy for newspaper writers to interject their racist views supporting white society’s morally depraved and reprehensible act - slavery.
According to the Kunta Kinte web site, an advertisement was placed in the Maryland Gazette on October 1, 1767. A “For Sale” sign touted having “a fresh shipment of healthy choice of slaves on board.”
That ad sent a subliminal message that the African was an inferior animal and should be treated as such. Code words like “fresh shipment” and “healthy choice” are how we want our meat from the lower animals.
Today, on any given day, one can go online and find racist hate-filled messages left on various message boards describing the African American.
The disparaging choices in vocabulary strongly suggest that we are not living in a post-racial society. The following is just a small sample of descriptors that one might come across: “savages,” “beasts” and “apes.”
These stereotypical words describing today’s African American should sound familiar to you. Why? because the same racist and offensive words have survived the test of time dating back to slavery. And what century is this? No. We do not live in a post-racial society.
How could we when racism is seared in our subconscious where some form of media nourishes it.
Philosopher Aristotle believed:
“Ethical virtues are acquired by habituation; they do not arise in us
from birth, but we by nature have the capacity to receive and perfect them.
A good government attempts to legislate such that it helps to habituate its
citizens to act virtuously. The way to become habituated in virtue is to
perform virtuous actions beginning from one's early youth.”
It is evident that those ethical virtues he spoke about were rooted in white supremacy and that the good ole American government wrote legislation
from a laundry list of racist policies that helped habituate the masses.
In the early 1900s, those same ethical virtues found members of the
Eugenics’ movement traveling the world espousing their racist belief that African Americans were intellectually and biologically inferior,
an ingrained belief that was probably already taught by ancestors and perpetuated by social norms and media.
According to research, some of the Eugenicists’ reasons were based on the group’s so-called observations of the African American. They even likened the African American’s hair texture and skin complexion to that of the ape family.
This gives credence to this writer’s belief that the racist depiction of first lady Michelle Obama, caricatured to look like an ape, was rooted in a racist stereotype that was passed down through the generations. Post-racial society?
Because Eugenicists were society’s opinion leaders, i.e., highly educated scientists, sociologists and psychologists, for example, their views were given credibility. Their published findings supported racism and sanctioned
white supremacy. Their prevailing racist beliefs and views were shared by early academicians as well as U.S. Supreme Court Justices, U.S. Presidents and members of the House of Representatives.
The manifestation was racist policies and laws that did not allow the African American relief from the oppressive system.
In America, media’s trick of the trade has not changed in the over 400-plus years since slavery.
To help maintain white supremacy, the media industry relies on two major communication tools, framing and semiotics. The powerful duo help to shape, sway, and guide our opinions.
They are used to psychologically manipulate how we interpret messages. What makes them potent is that they are used subliminally.
For example, showing or telling stories about African Americans in negative roles, be it subservient, criminal, fool or buffoon, then repeating the
same frames over and over and over again is how frames, negative or positive, become freeze framed as truths in the minds of many.
A history of frames with repeated images of African Americans grinning while steppin’ and fetchin for the white man; sneakin’ and stealin’ chickens from the white man; grinning while eating watermelon and chicken, and white
children calling African-America adults by their first name while putting an address like Mr., Mrs. or Miss on white adults, only served to remind
society of the African American’s lowly status.
Remember; Aristotle said, “The way to become habituated in virtue is to perform virtuous actions beginning from one's early youth.” White children and African American children learned their societal status early in their youth by performing virtuous actions.
Many communication researchers agree that media mimic society’s social
norms and that it is through media where many learn proper social cues,
i.e., how to behave or interact in society.Simply put, those stereotypical roles reflected the nation’s sense of reality because that is how the races interacted with one another in the real world.
Seeing them played out on screen only helped reinforce racist beliefs about, and low expectations of, the African American without conscious effort.
Those low-powered images of blacks became high-powered subliminal messages and tacit knowledge to the masses, who by now had unconsciously accepted
the racist hypnotic suggestion that anything black was bad, undesirable and intellectually challenged.
For an example of tacit knowledge, in the movie The Wizard of Oz, no one
really had to tell you that despite the word wicked, that the witch of the
west was a bad person. Her symbolic black hat and black dress along with
her dark green face with heavy black makeup around her eyes were all that
you needed to understand without anyone having to tell you - she represented bad.
At the same time, the message that anyone white was good was also being subliminally transmitted and reinforced. No one had to tell you that the witch with the snow-white face wearing the snow-white gown, along with her
golden blond locks was the good witch. Now that’s tacit knowledge for you, all psychologically implanted from previously stored information.
Another example is the dark-skinned white man wearing a black hat and dressed in all black in cowboy pictures. His dark skin, black hat, black
outfit, and unkempt look were all symbolic of bad and no one had to tell you that, did they?
You followed the scenes without having to ask anyone which cowboy was the good or bad guy; you just knew, because of racial socialization that taught you black is bad.
It is the same psychological library of stored racist information that easily allowed people like the Eugenicists to convince the populace that their racist junk science was valid.
Over half a century after the Eugenics movement began in the United States, the very thought of white superiority seemed to perplex Minister Malcolm X, who begged the answer to the following question:
“Why, here in America, the seeds of racism are so
deeply rooted in the white people collectively,
their belief that they are superior in some way is so
deeply rooted, that these things are in the national
Of course his question could be easily answered. All words, images, symbols, signs, and sounds have meaning; it’s all a part of communication (semiotics).
The following mass-mediated titles from 19th thru early 20th century America contain code words that conjured up racist and stereotypical
images to mass audiences. They also helped to subliminally set in stone
racist misperceptions of the African American in society.
Films - Colored Boy Eating Watermelon; Chicken Thieves;
Rastus in Zululand; Coon Town Suffragette; The Wooing, and
The Wedding of A Coon (1905); The Masher (1907); The Nigger (1915)
Book Titles - The Negro: A Menace to American Civilization by
Robert Schufeldt and The Negro A Beast by Charles Carroll.
Songs - If the Man in the Moon Were A Coon and All Coons
Look Alike to Me.
(Some communication researchers say whites often
referred to songs performed by African Americans as coon songs.)
Plays - Coons’ Parade; The Coon at the Door; The Coon
and the Chink and Dat Watermillyon
Character Names - Lady Adelia Chimpanzee and Abraham Lincum.
By the way, this is why you will never hear this writer referring to her best friend, bosom buddy or best friend for life as my “ace boon coon.”
The continuous showings of African Americans in negative frames and the use
of stereotypical code words in titles like the ones above helped to foster
the belief that the African American is deserving of maltreatment.
According to some communication researchers, prominent magazines like Nations and Harpers Weekly were notorious for using the word darky in reference to African Americans in their publications.
This writer can recall the word darky juxtaposed with a gross-looking caricature of a rotund, jet black man or woman with enormous red lips and bulging eyes with all but the sclera (white of the eye)showing.
There’s no wonder as to why African Americans on the whole took offense to being called the racist name darky or why even today some refuse to claim
the designation dark-skinned for themselves, what with that distorted and grotesque image that sent a subliminal message that anyone dark-skinned
was hideous. The image also imparted the message that anyone from Africa was unattractive. And that message transcended down through the generations.
Today’s music videos that showcase light-skinned African American women disproportionately over their darker-skinned sisters are probably a manifestation of the hypnotic suggestion that dark is ugly.
Darky would later be supplanted with black, but by then it was already too late, for it too had been assigned a negative connotation.
Today, some African American teenaged girls and women can be heard on voyeuristic/ saxploitation (Anglo-Saxon + exploitation)tv
entertainment/talk shows discussing how they want to have a baby by a light-skinned boy so that they can have a “pretty baby.”
And just to think that even today,some brown-skinned and dark-skinned African American men, both young and old, still refer to their light-skinned
brothers as a “pretty boy.”
How sad, for they truly do not understand their hypnotic response to a racist brainwashing.
And they seem to be some of the very ones who think they are racially conscious of negative impacts from racism. Oh, the power of racial socialization and media.
In the ’50s and early to mid 60’s, it was not unheard of for an African-American child to call another child out of anger, “you ugly black Sambo – you!” Or, “You ugly tar baby!”
Nowadays, if black is thrown at a student as a taunt, the receiver either denounces it with, “uhn - uhn, I’m not black.” Or, sucks back tears, cries, or prepares to fight.
In recent years, and as late as this past June, this writer has witnessed it more times than she cares to admit and can attest that some white and
Latino teachers have also witnessed it among African American students as young as seven years old and as old as late teens.
Some African American children and adults can also be heard on public transportation, in malls,and other public spaces, uttering the following in
loud conversations: “that black ugly muthafucka,” “that black ugly-ass bitch;” “that black ugly-ass nigga., etc.”
It was in the 80s when this writer first began noticing how some undisputedly brown-skinned African American children and adults were describing themselves as light-skinned; and it continues today unabated.
The strong sense of inferiority turned self-hatred based on the White Anglo-Saxon’s standards of beauty should have been stamped out during the height of the civil rights movement of the late 60s and early 70s, but wasn’t.
It could be that education for the love of one’s own ancestry was not
taught or modeled in some African American homes because the psychological
damage was so severe; hence intra-racial perpetuation of negrophobia.
Make no mistake about it; the racist indoctrination is not one-sided. While one group was being brainwashed into believing they are superior and the
world should be theirs, the other was being brainwashed into believing they were inferior and that their only role was to serve.
For whites, the manifestation is comfort in whiteness and conscious and unconscious acts of racism.
The manifestation for African Americans is also comfort in whiteness (white-male domination), self-loathing and self deprecation.
Each and every one of us, African Americans, whites and members of other races, is psychologically conditioned to respond to the African American in a certain way because we're all influenced by media.
This is why this writer understands when some whites today say, “I am not a racist; I am not the one who enslaved you.” This writer also understands
when some African Americans today say, “Black history is not important; that happened a long time ago.” Or, “Old civil rights leaders won’t let it
go; there’s no more racism.”
And wouldn’t you know, in a reference to slavery, some African Americans have joined some whites in the following refrain: “It’s time to get over it; it’s time to move on.”
Well, it appears that no one has gotten over it, let alone moved on. What this writer understands is that those who feel that way do not understand
the construction of racism and ideology of white supremacy and how they interlock with racism and media’s role in society.
The Role of Media
This forbidden grownup discussion has covered racial habilitation and how it was done. So now it’s time to discuss why it took place and why it continues to take place.
According to communication researcher Harold Lasswell, media have several
roles in society, one of which is surveillance of the environment -
"disclosing threats and opportunities affecting the value position of the
community and of the component parts within;" another is "transmission of
the social heritage from one generation to the next" (Wilson, Gutierrez and
In the eyes of some, President Obama poses a threat to the value position of
white supremacy because in his forbidden position, it is feared that he can
redirect the transmission of the social heritage from one generation to the
This is what has set the hidden social elite into panic mode, stirring the
embers of fear and hatred among right-wing conservatives, neoNazis, white
supremacists and vulnerable thinkers.
Agents of media swooped in to "disclose the threat and opportunities affecting the value position of the community and of the component parts within" – Senator Barack Hussein Obama.
The African American from Chicago had the audacity to throw his hat into the ring to run for President of the United States of America. Code words
were then employed to send a subtle message that he should be feared. This was done by playing on conscious and subconscious racial fears as well as Islamophobic fears.
At Senator Obama’s campaign rallies, television viewers could see and hear people openly walking around with guns, signs reading, “KILL HIM!” and verbal shouts of the same, at different venues across the United States.
The repeated airing of rants from hysterical lunatics signaled to others on the fringe that they were not alone and that their fears of him were well founded.
Who can forget Senator McCain’s (R-AZ) town hall meetings? He was President Obama’s top Republican challenger in the ’08 presidential race. The world
got to hear maniacal racist and Islamophobic blurts like, “He’s not one of us!”
They even mocked and rhymed his name with 9-1-1 terrorist Osama Bin Laden. And to think the President would later hear “He’s not one of
us” from people who mirror him. Yes, some African Americans have also said it, albeit for a different reason.
Their misguided and grumbled reason- “He isn’t black enough” because his mother was white. Is it possible that both groups may have a deep-seated phobia because they have become acclimated to whiteness?
It is conceivable that some whites who voted for the African-American President did so to prove to themselves they weren’t a racist, and that
having an African-American President would make racism go away, where we can all then live happily ever after in a post-racial society.
In regards to the African American who seem to feel uncomfortable with the African American President, this writer will quote from her poem, A Chat
With the President: A Marginalized President:
“Suffering from Stockholm’s
Syndrome, they’ve adopted the negrophobe’s view, ‘The White House is in no way a place for you and your black crew.”
Surely even the blind can see the correlation between today’s racist behavior, views, opinions and messages and those dating as far back as slavery.
If movie director D.W. Griffith were alive today, he would be quite proud of the long-lasting effects from the screenplay he co-wrote back in 1915.
The Birth of a Nation is playing out today pretty much in the same way it did 97 years ago. In the film, the Ku Klux Klan became enraged over the
storyline that depicted what would happen to white supremacy if African Americans were running the government.
In real life, the Colonial/Reconstruction-era film roused the KKK from a respite, where they then went on a barbarous rampage, physically attacking African Americans at random.
Senator Obama’s presidential candidacy and Presidency stirred the same type of fear and visceral hatred from some whites, African Americans and other people of color just as it did in the Ku Klux Klan 97 years ago.
The strong verbal attacks on the President and death threats against him are reminiscent of an earlier period. No, we do not live in a post-racial society.
Many of you may recall how various news reports exposed how President Obama, then a junior senator from Chicago, had to be afforded secret service
protection before even winning his party’s nomination to run for the Office of the presidency. No, we do not live in a post-racial society.
Recent media reports informed the nation how the President currently receives 30 death threats a day, more than any other president in United States’ history. Post-racial society, huh?
You see, the President is not your eidetic image of America’s apple pie that came part and parcel with the transmission of the social heritage.
It was the absence of that image that spurred the KKK into action after some viewed the film, The Birth of a Nation. And it is the same absent image that has right-wing conservatives, fringe groups and vulnerable thinkers acting out in hateful ways today.
To the horror of white audiences, among several other social deviations, the African American legislators in The Birth of a Nation passed a law that whites had to salute to them.
Here in the 21st century, media’s sign posts have led some audience members to respond to the "attack the threat" message in such a way that there is no longer any shame in their game.
During a nationally-televised address to the nation, Congressman
Joe Wilson (R-SC) shouted at the President, “You Lie!” interrupting his speech.
Governor Jan Brewer (R- AZ) angrily shook her finger at the African American President on a tarmac; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R- GA)
referred to the African American President as the “Food Stamp” President, and the list goes on and on.
Digressing for a few moments, some in Newt’s age range are old enough to remember the saxploitation talk show, The David Suskind Show that aired during the 60s.
Suskind had a frequent guest on his show just like Maury Povich loves bringing ‘em back for the "Are You the Baby’s Father?" shows for ratings.
Depending on who you ask, some guests have gone on to become either glorified or despised household names.
While Maury has too many to name here, Suskind had one African American woman who frequented his show and went by the name, Miss Washington, if
memory serves this writer well. Washington had eight children and was on welfare.
Whenever Suskind would ask her the inevitable question, and I paraphrase: “Why do you keep having so many children with no man to help you take care of them?” Washington would become animated while telling Suskind off and letting him and the national-viewing television audience know, and I
paraphrase, “It‘s not your damn business.” Continuing, “I don’t give a damn about what you or anyone else thinks; it’s not my problem that the system
financially supports my children.” Continuing while heatedly shouting at Suskind, “You [sic] suppose to support ‘em, that’s right,” in response to Suskind's question about tax payers having to support her and her children.
The repeated appearances of Washington on that show probably angered some whites and embarrassed some African Americans. To whites, she probably
brought the reality of their racist belief home that the African American was a burden on society and that she was living proof of it.
And to some African Americans viewing the show, Washington’s frequent appearances probably annoyed them because she played into white America’s
stereotype of African American women being sexually promiscuous and just downright irresponsible.
With other long-held racists’ views, conscious or unconscious, framing and code words like "eight children" and "no husband," made it easy to
perpetuate the falsehood that African American women only sat around having babies while collecting a welfare check.
By the way, despite statistical information that shows then and now that there are more whites on welfare than are African Americans, some whites
dispute the data because it does not comport with the negative racist stereotypes that became their truth. The power of the media.
This writer can't help but to think how some 40 plus years after Suskind and his guest Miss Washington, that there would be many African American
males and females vying to take her place in the spotlight. This writer hears weeping from ancestors.
Now back to Wilson, Brewer and Gingrich. Just like the Eugenicists’ white faces and social positions sanctioned their views and signaled it was okay
to continue mistreating and disrespecting the African American, so too did Wilson, Brewer and Gingrich of President Obama when they openly disrespected him.
Their white faces and prestigious positions signaled to right-wing conservatives, neo Nazis, white supremacists and addle-brained thinkers
that they are right to fear, disrespect, hate and even threaten to do
physical harm to the sitting African American President.
It was no real shocker to this writer that unbridled racist behavior became
rampant after the African American senator threw his hat into the
presidential ring, given that generations of racial socialization
masterfully inculcated masses with black being dark, scary, ugly, unintelligent and criminal.
The highly intelligent, handsome and regal-looking African-American does not
fit that profile and that might be why he is treated as a real-life boogeyman, a misperceived threat to white supremacy.
A "misperceived threat" because all of the ducks to make him a real threat to white supremacy are not in a row.
It is the unrealistic fear that the President can redirect the transmission of white supremacy. This is the fear that has the social elite, right-wing
conservatives, white supremacy groups and critically-challenged thinkers outside of those groups, up in arms whenever the African American President dared address African American concerns early in his Presidency.
While our grown-up pants are still pulled up, have you ever paid attention to how white presidents, congresspersons, governors, and mayors can all
engage in public discourse on solutions to problems affecting the African American community, but when an African American politician expresses views of the same, it then becomes a forbidden social cue?
Unlike President Obama, neither Presidents Roosevelt nor Kennedy nor Johnson nor Nixon nor Reagan nor Clinton, was viewed as a threat to white
supremacy, a threat to business as usual maybe, but not to white supremacy by virtue of them being white themselves.
President Clinton could speak before African American civil rights groups; President Nixon could entertain a 15-member Mississippi State Advisory
Committee to discuss how best to integrate southern schools; President
Kennedy could denounce white segregationists’ resistance to integration,
and yet, President Barack Obama gets slammed if he speaks before an African American group or openly discusses ways to assist the African American community.
History shows that unlike the negative monikers assigned to the African
American politician or civil rights activist who stands up against racist
policies and racial discrimination, whites conversely, are usually cast in a positive, non-threatening frame analysis.
On the small and silver screens, whites are generally portrayed as the white savior of African Americans; compassionate and understanding but
misguided; learned but misguided or deeply religious but misguided, or deliberate and compassionate.
So, there is no wonder why some whites and African Americans will denounce President Obama as well as some African American civil rights activists while at the same time applaud Tim Wise, a white social activist who speaks
out on white America’s racist history of racial injustice against the African American.
This is not to put Wise down, but rather to illustrate how the minds of some African Americans have been injected with the white-man-savior syndrome from racial socialization.
In the eyes of some African Americans, Wise probably represents a pseudo form of validation from the white community that slavery was wrong and that institutionalized racism is real, and he is one white man who understands it.
Truth be told, there are many white people who understand and sincerely try to do what they can to try and help fix that which is broken; but you may never learn their names.
What some African Americans, whites and other people of color don’t seem to understand is that while some are fighting to correct past wrongs, the
social elite are using mass-messaging in their fight to sustain white
supremacy, which is inextricably tied to racism. Another name for it is psychological warfare.
By the way, the alarm will not be sounded on Wise, namely because he has been framed as a compassionate white man; and also because his speech does not solicit revolt, which makes him no threat to the establishment; he’s no John Brown.
Fear of Plotting
President Obama along with the browning of America frightens many, including some African Americans, because his very image destroys that which is familiar to them, and this might be why some were asking for him to step down and begged for Secretary of State Hilary Rodham Clinton to take his place.
The Secretary of State no doubt is a well accomplished woman, but this writer doesn’t believe the call was based on her accomplishments, but
rather instead on her whiteness, which is familiar ground to many, including some African Americans.
The masses have been racially socialized into finding comfort in whiteness.
This writer believes Clinton’s whiteness brings about a calming effect to some, including her detractors and enemies.
There are several reasons why media use a whip to get the President to retreat from openly discussing African American issues. The first is that
subconscious fear that he would be using code words and symbols like the drinking gourd to plot with other African Americans to destroy racist policies and the culture of white supremacy. That is the real fear.
The fear of plotting maybe a carryover from slavery that transcended generations. The social climate and conditions during early America created distrust among African American slaves, their descendants and members of white society.
Racial discrimination, deprivation of basic educational and economic parity, along with barbaric forms of punishment, all taught African Americans as a whole to distrust whites.
Some whites on the other hand, were grappling with the fear that African American slaves would rise up and retaliate in a bloody race war because of their mistreatment.
Today, one can hear fear of a bloody race riot being expressed on different broadcast talk shows as well as on message boards. This writer believes the
expressed thought that we’re living in a post-racial society is being used as a coping mechanism by some.
With a reported spike in hate speech, an uptick in African Americans being beaten or killed by white police officers under suspicious circumstances,
cases like the murder of Trayvon Martin and the rise in the number of white-supremacy groups since the election of President Obama, the fear of the
possibility of a race riot can become all too real and stressful. A race riot is something that no right-minded thinking person would welcome, not
to mention you might be hurting one of your own given the fact that mixed marriages have produced mixed children.
Now, getting back to distrusting one another, be honest with yourself, think about what sometimes happens when three or more African Americans are
seen standing together talking while on a work break and a white employee happens to walk out and notices them.
While the white person will usually display a level of uneasiness and assume a look of suspicion, as if he or she, or whites collectively, might be the subject of the African Americans’ discussion,
African Americans will sometimes accommodate the white person by dispersing, but not before someone comments in a you betta watch your back tone, “You know he (or she) is going to think we’re talking about them [sic] and go run back and tell it.”
The mistrust of one another and guilt that makes one think someone is plotting against them could be an unconscious response from an actual event
or from experiences shared among family, friends and acquaintances that traveled down through the generations. President Obama is the poster child for fear of plotting.
Media agents and some white politicians seem to enjoy using unsuspecting African American dupes to do their dirty work for them. They'll throw the
bone out for the dupes who openly criticize the President because they don't believe he identifies with his African-American roots to gnaw on in public.
They use President Obama’s impeccable educational background to drive home to the non-critical thinkers among African Americans, “He thinks he is better than you,” just like Reverend Jessie Jackson was caught on tape saying, and I paraphrase, “He looks down on black people.”
Three years after Jackson’s negative comment, President Obama gave a speech
at the Congressional Black Caucus Annual September 2011 Dinner.
Towards the end of his speech, the President told his predominately African American audience: “Take off your bedroom slippers, put on your marching
shoes. Shake it off. Stop complaining, stop grumbling, stop crying…” (White House Blog).
The strategy and ultimate goal for media agents was, and is, to get enough African Americans to go against the President by using the “ain’t black
enough mental block” to break a feared projected African American voting block in the upcoming presidential election.
Media agents waited, for they knew after using code words to make it sound like the Presdent was looking down on the predominately African-American
audience, that someone would take their bait by publicly voicing his or her discontent in the hopes that others would join the chorus.
That person would be Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA). The President was calling for direct action through support from members of the Congressional Black Caucus who had been publicly complaining about the country’s economic conditions at every opportunity.
Remember, one of media’s purposes is keeping watch for imposing threats to the status quo. It is safe to assume that those who are assigned to watch out for imposing threats thought they found code words in the President's
before an audience that was mostly composed of people who reflected his image.
While media radar agents were analyzing his speech on a high frequency, some African American malcontents got stuck where they wanted
them - on a low frequency called frivolity.
Excerpts from the President’s Speech:
In another part of his speech, the President said:
“There has to be a better concept of what America
is all about. It has to be based on the idea that I am my brother’s keeper, and we’re in this together.”
Continuing, he said:
“We had a different vision and so we did what was right, and
we fought to extend unemployment insurance, and we fought
to extend the Earned Income Tax Credit, and we fought to
expand the Child Tax Credit – which benefited nearly half of all
African American children in this country. And millions of Ameri-
cans are better off because of that fight” (Online Source: Grio).
Fear of plotting is what led to the public relations nightmare after the
President spoke out against the highly publicized and racially-charged arrest of his friend, Harvard University professor Henry Louis Gates.
Media reports at the time said the professor was arrested in his own home in Cambridge, Massachusetts, after a neighbor called 911 to report she thought someone was burglarizing Gates’ house.
The story was framed as a racial divide after President Obama was ambushed for his comment on the incident, in which he said, and I paraphrase, “The arrest never should have taken place.”
While the President’s response left some in the white community calling him a racist because they saw it as him sticking up for a fellow African
American (plot) against a white officer, some in the African American community resorted to calling the President spineless because they did not
like the way he quashed the public relations fiasco that media created and then exploited.
Sadly, some are brainwashed by television and film that stereotypically depicts the African American man as quick tempered, angry and violent
during times of conflict, so much so that they cannot relate to the smooth African American President who used strategy to resolve the media-driven diversionary flap.
There is no doubt in this writer’s mind had the President been white and the same response given in the same scenario, no alarm of threat would
have been signaled to white society. No, we do not live in a post-racial society.
To quote from another line in this writer’s poem, A Chat With the President: A Marginalized President in reference to mislabeling the President spineless: “No, they’ve misread your cue, because you're courageous, smooth
and calculating, let us not forget astute, your critics are just upset because you’ve chosen the checkmate route…”
Some African American public figures like Reverend Al Sharpton are also targets of framing.
For example, each time Reverend Sharpton rose to the occasion to confront an alleged injustice toward an African American, media followed him and covered the story for a reason.
They reported on as many racially-charged incidents where emotions ran high among African Americans and whites with the Reverend Sharpton taking a commanding role.
They never showed repeated frames, if any, of Reverend Sharpton preaching as a guest minister at a church somewhere, oh nooo, they only showed
repeated frames of him at various venues in different states around the
country confronting allegations of racial discrimination or racial
injustice, just enough to create his image, painting him an ambulance chaser or race agent provocateur.
The sign posts were carefully erected to lead audiences of all races and ethnic groups to conclude Reverend Al Sharpton is an opportunist and a bad person. Regardless of the surface evidence before you, and regardless of America’s history of racial injustice toward the African American, the subliminal message is whenever you hear the name Sharpton, you are to think, “race baiter,” “race hustler,” or “race pimp.”
The framing and code words used to describe each event were carefully constructed to try and dilute Sharpton’s influence the same way code words were used to paint Dr. King as a communist sympathizer.
So, to answer why media continues to try and sabotage messages by African-American politicians and public figures by either watering down or even
pooh-poohing their messages, it is because the social elite are afraid they might amass too much influence and plot to upset the status quo – white supremacy.
A desperate attempt to hold tightly onto the reins of white supremacy has some chasing after the ole birther rainbow. Now this one could serve as a
measuring rod to determine conscious and unconscious racism. All one has to do is use the actor and former Governor Arnold Swarzenneger smell test.
If you were one who rallied back in ‘04 to support a constitutional amendment that would pave the way for the white, foreign-born citizen to
run for the office of the presidency, or you either did not care
one way or the other, but are now vehemently calling for proof from the
sitting African-American president, then yep, you fit the bill of a racist, because it should not matter to you one way or the other.
Once again, to borrow from a line in this writer’s poem, A Chat With the President: A Marginalized President, “Thoth, seems not long ago when some
begged for a constitutional amendment for if white, foreign-born
Schwarzeneger considered a run, but with you, Mr. President, they
continually question your nationality, hoping to mule kick you out on your buns.”
Remember what’s at stake here is fear of losing the grips on white
supremacy. So there is no wonder why some of what we’re seeing today is reminiscent of days long gone, or are they?
Let’s explore what caused the touch off in the silent film The Birth of a Nation, and then ask ourselves, “Does this sound familiar?”
In Griffith’s silent film, an African American was elected Lieutenant
Governor only after African American soldiers blocked whites from going to
the polls to vote. They then stuffed the ballot boxes to elect themselves
Stuffing the ballot boxes with only African American ballots equates with an African American voting block. Let’s compare then and now:
Since the 15th amendment in 1870 granting voting rights to all, including
African Americans, white politicians, mainly in the south, have come up with all kinds of tricks to deny those rights to the African American.
To circumvent the constitutional law that gave African American men their right to vote (remember, women could not vote then), congressional lawmakers enacted the poll tax.
Citizens had to pay the tax before they could vote. Ah, but there was also another hitch, just in case some African Americans could somehow come up with the money, they added a racist clause that excluded any man from
voting if his father or grandfather did not vote during slavery, which
meant of course, African Americans were excluded.
And, oh yeah, the racist clause also included a literacy test, which of course compounded the already unfair and unlevel playing field, because most African American slaves had been denied an education, hence many could not read.
Today, 197 years after the 15th amendment was ratified to include all citizens, and 97 years after the airing of The Birth of A Nation, evidence
of the same fear that gripped whites then has revealed itself today, 47 years after the 1965 Voting Rights Act.
Present-day Fear and Racist Tactics have lawmakers enacting a law to purge voters from voting rolls if they haven’t voted since the election of President Obama. No. We do not live in a post-racial society.
Present-day Fear and Racist Tactics have congressional representatives employing the mostly southern game of gerrymandering.
It has been around for a very long time and is still with us today. Here is how the game is played: Say for instance a majority of African Americans live in a certain congressional district and the opposing party knows his or her candidate would not stand a chance of receiving an appreciable number of votes, because the majority of African Americans probably would not vote for that person, so what do they do?
Answer: Redraw the district lines to break up the majority, or African American voters (voting block). Voila! Problem solved. No chance left of an African
American voting block. No. We do not live in a post-racial society.
Present-day Fear and Racist Tactics have, ta-da-a-a, a law in some states, mostly in the south, as was the case back in the days of the poll tax, where one must now purchase, if they don’t already have one, a government-
issued face identification card before being allowed to vote, nothing more than a modern-day poll tax. No. We do not live in a post-racial society.
Presumably, those who cannot afford to purchase one will essentially forfeit their constitutional right to vote, this writer guesses.
Racism is like the old saying, “You can take the girl out of the country but you can’t take the country out of the girl.” Why? because there is too
much extraneous racist junk buried in the deepest recesses of the subconscious mind.
Minister Malcolm X was right when he said racism is “deeply rooted in the subconsciousness of whites.”
This writer ventures to say that the racial socialization of the African American is also deeply rooted and manifests in ways delineated earlier in this essay.
It is no secret that media doesn’t always play fair and will appeal to fear and guilt. Here is one last quote from my poem, “They target
vulnerable listeners, then exploit their inner fears, so they can then shift and control their rational thinking gear.”
The media tried hard to block Senator Obama from winning the presidency with the Reverend Jeremiah Wright flap, but there were enough sensible-thinking
voters to thwart their attempt by not falling for the obvious set up. This time, however, may not be as easy, given that an incumbent has a record that negative framing, code words and propaganda can easily rip apart.
Racial Socialization Perpetuated by Media
The Power of racist mass-mediated messages racially socialized the populace to believe that the white face that orchestrated mass kidnappings from
Africa and mass murder of the African American, the same face that tore the African American away from their families, heritage, and culture; used
whips on the African American; hang the African American; publicly ridiculed the African American; fed the African American table scraps;
housed the African American in ramshackle quarters; denied the African American an education; treated the African American like they were
intellectually and biologically inferior, after all of this brutality and cruelty, media was still able to brainwash the world into believing that
the white man was the good guy and that his victims, the African American, was the bad guy. Now that’s some real power for you.
The Power of racist mass-mediated messages racially socialized the populace, including some African Americans, to believe that the African
American was lazy, despite evidence to the contrary. The African American
toiled in the searing hot plantation fields; worked as maids and
butlers to white families; were nursemaids to their children while their mothers tended to their social clubs and entertainment duties, not to
mention that the African American’s physical labor helped build this country, and they were the lazy ones? That’s some real psychological power; you can’t deny it.
The Power of racist mass-mediated messages racially socialized the populace, including some Native Americans, to believe that the Native
American was the savage. You remember the cowboys and Indians shows that made the white man look good? Yet, it was the white man who
went on a savage and murderous rampage to take land that did not belong to
him and then occupy it, even to this day. It was the white man from generations ago who showed no trace of humanness when he marched 15,000
Cherokee Indians from east of the Mississippi (Georgia, Alabama and
Tennessee) into Oklahoma, where 4000 would later die from hunger and disease before reaching their forced destination.
This was a part of Andrew Jackson’s Removal of Indians Policy; so let’s just call it what it was – ethnic cleansing. And, who were the savages?
The incident became known as The Trail of Tears. To project themselves on TV, in movies, and in print media as the good guys and for a world to embrace that is evidence of how powerful media really is (www.nps.gov/trte/, www.pbs.org/wgbh/aia/part4/4h1567.html)
As this writer recalls it, many children could identify with the white cowboy because they saw him as good and the Indians as bad. During early cowboy pictures, African American cowboys were not depicted despite the fact they existed.
The Power of racist mass-mediated messages racially socialized the populace, including some African Americans, to believe that African American public school educators are incompetents who are inferior to their white counterparts and deserve to be fired. White savior syndrome?
There’s no wonder as to why so many are willing to swallow that misconception whole. For generations, syndicated t.v. programs framed the image of the educator by excluding African Americans in those roles.
The 1970s had regular television shows that featured white actors in the role of “white-man-savior.” There was Mr. Kotter in "Welcome Back Kotter"
and Mr Reeves in The "White Shadow," and several movies where whites went
into underachieving schools where African American children were in the
majority. The students were always openly hostile with a propensity for violence and no appreciation for learning.
In t.v. and movieland, a compassionate white savior always showed up to save the students from themselves and put the school on the map for being adacemically competitive.
Minister Malcolm X understood the power of media very well. He said:
“The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power.
Because they control the minds of the masses."
Pssst! Pssst! See if you can follow this drinking gourd. With what has been
laid out here, every eligible African American should be moved to register
to vote and then sprint to the polls on Election Day to cast their
ballot, because there must be a good reason for why it has been the history of this country to try and suppress the African American vote.
Obviously there is power in the vote, or those who hold true to white ideology would not go to such lengths to try and disenfranchise you. The secret they don’t want you to find out about that this writer is going to tell you about is that in order to amass real power for real change that can severely cripple white supremacy is simple:
You must be willing to go to the polls and vote for your President, senators, congresspersons, mayors, councilpersons, all those who support your views. Remember the adage there is strength in numbers? Don’t just sit back because you voted for a president and then leave that person hamstrung because he lacks the number of offensive lineman and fullbacks
(congresspersons and senators) to run block against people like Tea Party Republicans, blue dog democrats and other right-wing conservative representatives.
This is why President Obama cannot effect redirecting the "transmission of the social heritage;" he doesn't have enough blockers.
Let me tell you, the social elite and opinion leaders are running scared. It was reported today by several news agencies that Republican House Speaker John Boehner openly expressed his hopes that African Americans and Latinos would not go to the polls to vote in November's general election (The Atlantic Wire, online - 08/28/12).
Now let me put a bug in your ear just in case you missed it. The U.S. Supreme Court‘s "Citizens United" decision allows for corporations and unions
to spend as much money as they so choose on the political candidate of their choice. This means that your interests and mine will in all likelihood land
up in file 13 (get thrown out), that is, unless of course, we happen to share the same interests as "them that got" [sic].
Hopefully, this grown-up talk will leave all of us wanting to do some introspection and a reexamination of how we derive at our views and opinions and who actually helps us to shape them.
We should be able to keep our grown-up pants on long enough to begin a mature public dialog on race matters where we’re not hating each other for
what a savage people (White Anglo-Saxon Protestants) did many generations ago; it's neither healthy nor productive. This is the time to look for answers as to where we go from here, but first …
Before any healing can begin to take place, we must admit that the crime committed against the African American was horrific and traumatic and that
racist de jure laws, institutionalized racism, racist mass-mediated messages and a white supremacy ideology are the cause of this present-day ulcer;
We must also admit the premise of the role of media is true: "Surveillance of the environment - disclosing threats and opportunities affecting the value
position of the community and of the component parts within;" and "transmission of the social heritage from one generation to the next;"
We must also be willing to admit that “transmission of the social
heritage from one generation to the next” is the same as saying
keeping white supremacy alive and well for many generations to come and that an African American President is viewed by the social elite and racist extremists as a threat to that smooth transmission; and
We must also be willing to admit that whites have had an unfair
advantage to educational opportunities and economic parity because the
transmission of the social heritage has been successfully passed down to them for generations, hence whites continue to benefit from the bloody ill-gotten spoils from over four centuries ago.
If we are willing to admit to these things, then the discussion should turn to how we rid ourselves of racist clutter that has been buried in our
subconscious minds for generations, so that we can then go about identifying and
correcting conscious and unconscious acts of racism, which in turn should begin the process of rendering white supremacy ideology impotent. Until this happens, we do not live in a post-racial society.
(Next blog: Media’s Criminalization of the African American and why Geraldo Rivera's remarks should not have caused a brouhaha.)